Easter, called Holy Week in the Philippines, is a time for family and religious observance in this largely Catholic country, and a fleeting period when Manila’s gridlocked traffic eases as people flee the big city for the countryside.
It’s this trend of “faith tourism” – people travelling specifically to visit holy sites – that has Philippine tourism officials looking to capitalise on the country’s religious monuments.
Earlier this year, the Philippine Department of Tourism announced plans to turn the country into a “faith tourism mecca”. And with work underway to restore many of the Spanish colonial-era churches, the government hopes to promote the country as a religious tourism destination for Catholics overseas.
Tourism in the Philippines has long lagged behind other Southeast Asian countries despite the lure of its tropical climate, archipelago of islands, white-sand beaches and other natural wonders. The country drew 6.7 million tourists in 2017, far fewer than the 35 million that visited Thailand.
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